Conjured in 2011 by Chesterfield FC in England, Walking Football is a modified version of the beautiful game, designed to keep people active no matter their age or fitness limitations.
Now, after the original announcement of the joint initiative between the Australian Federal Government and Football Federation Australia in January, a national Walking Football program has been rolled out across the country, with the full support of all nine state/territory Member Federations.
With over 800 clubs now registered in the United Kingdom, the less intense version of the game has proven a resounding success. With a particular emphasis on the physical fitness benefits of remaining active throughout middle-age and well into the retirement years, the potential health and social benefits are considerable.
The Federal Government has invested in those potential benefits for all Australians as they move into their senior years. It developed the Move it Aus – Better Ageing grant program, to which FFA successfully applied and the initiative was officially launched earlier in the year at Perth’s Inglewood United Soccer Club.
Months of financial, structural and logistical planning by governing bodies across the nation followed. Such diligence was required in order to bring the vision to life and provide the vehicle to potentially connect or reconnect older Australians to football; allowing them to enjoy the thrill of hitting the back of the net, regardless of the power behind the shot.
Along with the intention of keeping fans involved in the game no matter their age, Walking Football also stands to be a valuable community activity; providing support and networking opportunities for many older Australians.
Often widowed or isolated through family fragmentation, many crave the sense of community so often taken for granted by those still in the work force and/or actively socialising.
Walking Football stands to be a valuable activity, shared by like-minded people, seeking a social and physical outlet.
In addition, the initiative will provide new comers with the opportunity to enjoy the game of football without fear of injury or intimidation, with one foot remaining on the ground at all times and no slide tackles permitted.
Played on a smaller pitch and with reduced numbers (either 5×5 or 6×6), the game has been backed to the tune of A$1.8 million dollars. After the initial January announcement, Federations across the nation have spent immense time and energy in planning its implementation.
Now, with Australia’s summer season of football about to begin, it is time for those interested to act. An introductory video can be found at;
The short clip explains the basic principles behind not only the modified version of the game but also the major health and social benefits available to those interested in participating.
All contact details and the means to express interest and enrol can be found using the same link.
Thankfully, I am still able to enjoy the game at full speed. However, as we are all well aware, human bones begin to make some rather disturbing sounds as the years advance. Muscles tighten and our ability to run continuously for any length of time does wane.
As such, Walking Football looms as a potentially rewarding activity for those with a passion for the game, hoping to enjoy its complexity well into their advanced years.
Perhaps more importantly, it will also provide a space to talk about the game, relive the past and celebrate football in a supportive community that strengthens not only the body but also the spirit.